One Year Ago
“Why are we going to this again?” Hughes asked, unplugging his phone from the charger in Roy’s car. They sat parked in the driveway of Dr. Hawkeye’s charming two-story home. It wasn’t far from campus, but not so close that the university’s students could walk it easily.
“It’s good networking,” Roy said. He popped a mint in his mouth and double checked his tie. It had felt overkill for a dinner at his advisor’s house, but his aunt had taught him that it was better to be a little overdressed than underdressed.
“Dr. Hawkeye scares me,” Hughes muttered. “He has crazy eyes.”
“He’s a genius. He worked at ASA for fifteen years. He still has friends there.” The Amestrian Space Agency was where Roy had wanted to work since he was a kid.
Hughes snorted. “I can get in at ASA on my own merit.”
“ Sure you can. This is about me.” Hughes could benefit from some networking too, even if he was much less ambitious than Roy.
“Then why am I here?”
“You’re my emotional support dog.”
“I would resent being called a dog, but dogs are God’s gift to humans.”
They walked up the hill to the front door, decorated festively with a wreath of leaves with cute smiling pumpkins. It struck him as very out of place for a man Roy knew for a fact was a widower and didn’t even have so much as a plant in his office. His wife had been possibly more impressive than her husband—she had a Wikipedia page about her contributions to Central Amestris University. It was a shame she had died so young.
“Huh, Gracia has this same leaf thing at her apartment,” Hughes commented, rapping on the door three times.
And then Roy’s future wife opened the door. Or he certainly wanted her to be.
She smiled faintly, amber eyes glancing between the two men on the doorstep. She wore jeans and a well-worn CAU sweatshirt, and her blonde hair was clipped back messily.
Yeah, Roy was a little overdressed by her standards, but she wasn’t the man he needed to impress tonight. Although he suddenly did want to impress her.
“You must be the grad students,” she said, opening the door wider for them to come in.
“Yes,” Hughes said, when Roy was too stunned to speak. “I’m Maes. This is Roy.”
“I’m Riza. Dr. Hawkeye is my dad,” she said.
Roy’s heart sunk. Oh. His mentor’s daughter . He’d completely forgotten she existed. Somehow when Dr. Hawkeye had mentioned her, Roy had pictured a little girl, but that might just have been the protective way he spoke, and how little information he had given about her. Like the fact that she was beautiful and would be attending this dinner.
“Nice to meet you,” Roy said, finding his tongue.
Riza stepped aside and let them walk into the entryway. She was only a little shorter than Roy, and she looked strong. Like she could beat him in a wrestling match. But he couldn’t think about wrestling her right now. He was supposed to be the epitome of professionalism.
“I brought some wine,” he said, holding out the bottle he’d tucked under his arm. He hesitated. Had he just handed his advisor’s underage daughter alcohol? “Are you even—”
Her eyes danced. “I’m old enough to drink, yes.”
“Uh, sorry,” he said, running a hand through his hair. Hell, why was he so nervous?
“I’ll just take this to the kitchen. We’re having some appetizers in there before dinner,” she said, leading them into a homey but large kitchen. Roy couldn’t stop himself from checking out her ass on the way, and Hughes elbowed him. Apparently, he wasn’t being discreet.
Dr. Hawkeye was waiting for them in the kitchen with Dr. Marcoh, another engineering professor, both still in the casual dress clothes they had been wearing earlier at the university.
“Aha! My protégé is here,” Dr. Hawkeye declared. “And you brought Hughes. Perfect.” It was obvious Dr. Hawkeye had already imbibed a little too much of the drink in front of him, because he was never so friendly during office hours when Roy was torturously helping him grade exams for undergrads, or while reviewing Roy’s doctoral thesis. Roy had thought he had a healthy degree of self-esteem right up until Dr. Hawkeye made him feel smaller than an ant. Yet somehow Roy was his protégé?
The man must believe in tough love.
“Thank you for inviting us over,” Roy said, shaking their hands.
“And did my daughter introduce herself?” Dr. Hawkeye asked. “Riza’s a brilliant math major at the university. Takes after her mother.”
Roy watched Riza, who was arranging the meal. It had been catered by a nice restaurant in town but needed unpacking. She positively beamed at the praise from her father, so different from the soft smiles she had given them at the door. Roy reminded himself she was off limits. He needed Dr. Hawkeye as a reference if he was going to get anywhere with his ambitions. Aeronautics was a very limited career path, and getting involved with his advisor’s daughter was a sure way to crash and burn before he'd even finished his studies.
“I just have a lot of time to study,” Riza deflected. “Mom was a natural.”
“Then why do I always hear such good things from the head of the math department?” Dr. Hawkeye teased.
“What year are you?” Roy found himself asking. “I haven’t seen you around.” It was a large university, but he would have remembered seeing her.
“A junior,” Riza replied. She was still unboxing the food while following the conversation.
Roy saw an opportunity he couldn’t resist. He strode over, leaving Hughes with the professors, who were pouring more wine for themselves.
“Do you need any help?” Roy asked.
“I don’t know. What if you accidentally stain your tie?” she asked, quirking an eyebrow. Roy didn’t know her well enough to know if she was teasing or serious. He swallowed.
“Then I’ll take it off. No big deal.”
“You’re the first of my father’s students to wear a tie,” she said quietly. “You must really want to impress him.”
Roy didn’t see the point in lying. “I do,” he said, keeping his voice low. “He’s brilliant, and I could really use any guidance he can give me.” He started on the packages while she opened a drawer to pull out silverware.
“Why’s that? You’re the first my father has ever called his protégé. Pretty sure he likes you more than me,” she said. And for some reason, Roy thought maybe she wasn’t teasing this time, though it was difficult to tell. There was something there he couldn’t decipher.
“I’m the first in my family to graduate college, let alone get a doctorate.” He wasn’t going to mention that his parents were long dead, and his high-functioning alcoholic aunt had raised him. “And if I want to work at ASA someday, well…”
“I get it,” she said. She lowered her voice. “I want to work at ASA one day, too.” Did he detect the faintest hint of a blush?
“Yeah. Even if just for a few years. It’s a childhood dream I haven’t been able to let go of.”
He grinned. He basked in that distinct feeling of having someone understand him. He hadn’t felt like this since he met Hughes, and now Hughes was his closest friend.
“Me too. Central Amestris has the highest number of grads working there. It's why I decided to do my undergrad and doctorate here.”
Riza nodded. “It is a great school.” She studied him appraisingly. “How old are you? No offense, but you seem a little younger than the other students my father invites.”
“Twenty-five,” he said. He wanted to ask how old she was, but going by her year in school, she was probably three or four years younger than him. Not an insurmountable obstacle, but not an inconsequential one when it came to asking her out. Then he wanted to slap himself. He was not here to flirt with his advisor’s gorgeous daughter. Nope.
“Not bad,” she said. “How far are you into the doctorate program?”
“This is my second year,” he said. The first year had nearly broken him, but he wasn’t going to tell her that.
“If you’ve survived this long, I’m sure you can manage.”
“I hope so,” he said. “Otherwise paying back my student loans will kill me.”
He finally got a laugh out of her then, and he felt like the king of the world. But just when he felt like she was opening up, Hughes signaled for him return, so Roy had to return to being the professional he was aspiring to be.
The dinner went smoothly, with Roy finding some common ground with Dr. Marcoh that he hadn’t before. He fought off disappointment when Riza excused herself as soon as the meal was finished.
“Probably off to meet her boyfriend,” Dr. Hawkeye muttered. Roy deflated even further. Of course she had a boyfriend.
With the success of that first dinner, Friday dinners at Dr. Hawkeye’s home became a monthly occurrence. Roy found himself marking them on his calendar with excitement, hoping Riza would be there. She usually was. He never had much time to talk to her, but he squeezed in whatever he could, learning everything he could about her, like that she was a trap shooting champion, and that she’d always wanted a dog, but her father had never let her have one. She liked mathematics because iit had constant rules, understandable across languages. She was a proponent of the metric system, just like Roy.
And she wore red lipstick like it had been made specifically to accentuate her pouty lips.
Nothing ever came of their conversations beside knowing one another a little better. He avoided looking at her social media. When he saw her on campus at the coffee shop, he had only waved like an acquaintance because she had been with a group of friends, and Roy wasn’t about to interject himself into her life without permission just because he had a crush. She was on her way to finishing college and applying to grad schools, and he didn’t want to start anything when it was possible she’d be moving across the country to finish her studies. Though Roy had never heard her mention any particular schools…
It didn’t matter though. Dr. Hawkeye still occasionally mentioned her boyfriend, so it was a pointless to even consider. Nothing would ever happen between Roy and Riza Hawkeye.
Roy was completely naked beneath his robe as he sat on a platform in the middle of an art classroom, a beer running through his system despite it being just after lunch. The smell of acrylics and charcoal was strong in the air, and—
Had someone drugged his beer earlier? Because suddenly, somehow, Riza Hawkeye walked through the door. That was impossible.
But she saw him and waved. She was real. She dropped her oversized bag by an easel close to where he was sitting and walked over with an amused smile.
“What are you doing here?” she asked. Then flushed an adorable pink when he raised his eyebrows in reply. “I mean, I know why you are here. I meant the how .”
“What, you don’t think I do this every semester?”
“I thought you were a math major,” he said, trying to sound casual but secretly planning how best to punish Hughes for this humiliation.
“I am. I get free tuition through my dad’s employee discount, so I added an art major.” She smiled. “There’s a precision to art, sometimes, just like math. But it’s also fun to do something creative once in a while.”
God damn it. With her math skills she could probably calculate his dick size just by eyeballing it. He was a grower, not a shower.
“My dad doesn’t like it, but I told him it’s a skill that will add diversity to my applications,” she continued in the careless way she did whenever she was making light of something serious. Like how her father spent more time with his students than his own child. While it was clear Dr. Hawkeye loved his daughter and was proud of her in his own way, he didn’t know how to relate to her except when it came to academics.
“You’re probably right,” he said. “Art has its place in the sciences. Even figure drawing like this—for anatomical illustrations,” he said, hoping he’d made up for her father’s disapproval the tiniest bit.
She smiled. “So. How did you end up modeling for my art class?”
He groaned in embarrassment. “I may have made an ill-advised bet with Havoc and Hughes.”
Across the room was Havoc, also in a cotton robe, chatting with a guy with white-gray hair, but a youthful face. He was probably listening to Havoc tell some stupid joke because he was laughing at everything the dumb idiot said.
“What was the bet?” Riza asked.
“Who could eat the most hot wings with the restaurant’s Kill Me Now sauce. Because men stop maturing at age twelve, and we felt the need to demonstrate it.”
She threw her head back and laughed, and for a moment, Roy forgot that he was about to strip naked in front of his advisor’s daughter. And while Hughes had certainly wanted to embarrass Roy and Havoc, it had been more about making them squirm while helping out Professor Armstrong, not humiliating Roy in front of Riza . Hughes knew Professor Armstrong through Gracia, and Armstrong was always looking for volunteers to model for her figure drawing classes—clothed and naked alike.
So not only had Hughes won the bet, but Armstrong got her volunteers for free, and Roy and Havoc would be humbled by college students immortalizing them in charcoal. Hughes was an evil mastermind, Roy was certain. There was no way this was coincidence, right?
“Are you comfortable taking it all off in front of everyone?” Riza asked.
“It was a lot easier when I thought I didn’t know anyone in the class except Armstrong.”
“You know Professor Armstrong?” Riza asked.
“She hates me.”
Riza snorted. “What did you do?”
“Why do you assume it was me?”
“It’s always you.”
Roy grimaced. So far looking impressive in front of Riza was going downhill fast. As it always did.
“I maybe said something about Armstrong grading the male students harsher than the female ones. And maybe she overheard me.” Actually, he had said it right to her face. He’d stood his ground, too. Gracia traded her project with Breda’s, and while Gracia had always gotten excellent comments and Breda rather lackluster ones, for that project it was the reverse. Total favoritism.
“You’re probably right,” Riza whispered conspiratorially. “The only guy in the class she likes is Miles.”
“I’m sure you’re a favorite,” he teased.
“Not if she sees me talking to you,” she said, and with that she excused herself and took a seat. Belatedly, he noticed she had chosen an easel directly in front of the small platform he’d been assigned by Armstrong.
He must have looked aghast because she blushed and said, “I promise I won’t look.”
Roy had to be cool. “Look as much as you want,” he said, waggling his eyebrows. She snorted and started setting up while he wondered if pulling the fire alarm would be worth it to escape this hell.
Riza had arrived earlier to her figure drawing class than she usually did, and now she was wishing she hadn’t come at all. No, that wasn’t right. She would have been devastated to miss this, even if currently she was regretting choosing an easel so close. Generally, she just picked whatever easel had the most unobstructed view without much thought. Today, her mind had been so focused on Roy Mustang in a robe, clearly there to pose nude in front of her class, she hadn’t considered her position now gave her a perfect view of her father’s star pupil—the son he’d never had.
Riza had no plans to tell her father she’d seen Roy naked. Ever. And she assumed Roy would feel the same way. She had tried to put him at ease by goading him as usual, but he still shifted uncomfortably in his robe, cheeks a bashful red. Just when she thought his confidence was flagging, he told her, “ Look as much as you want .”
Didn’t he know she would spend the next couple of hours examining every inch of him? She’d never even studied her lovers like she did the models in her class, and now it was Roy . Roy who she sometimes imagined naked, especially after their monthly dinners. Especially when he wore a tie. He was so fastidious about his clothes when it came to anything professional, and if another colleague of her father’s was coming along, Roy always put on a tie.
He looked absolutely edible in a tie.
Biting her lip and ducking behind her easel, she pulled out her phone to text her friend Rebecca who had persuaded Riza to take the class in the first place. Rebecca was running late, and while usually they tried to sit next to one another, Riza thought Roy’s fellow grad student Jean was more up her alley…and maybe Riza wanted Roy to herself. Or as much as she could with half the class gathered around him.
RH: Are you coming to class?
RC: Almost there! Why?
RH: You know that guy? My dad’s favorite?
RH: He’s one of the models.
RC: OMG! We never get hot guys as models.
RH: His friend is modeling today too. You’d like him.
RC: TWO? We never have two at once.
RH: They got roped into doing it, so I don’t think they're getting paid. More budget room, then?
RC: Two hotties?!
RC: Armstrong doesn’t even like men. This is a blessing.
RH: Or a curse. Maybe I don’t want to see Roy naked.
RC: Better to get a preview before you decide to go for a private showing, right?
RH: …No comment.
Rebecca waltzed in a few minutes later, glanced between Roy, who was now listening to instructions from Professor Armstrong, and Havoc, who probably had a similar talk from Armstrong’s TA, Miles. Rebecca winked at Riza and went to sit in Jean’s section. Aside from the wink, Rebecca kept up a professional expression. Even if they were secretly having a bit of fun with this, neither of them wanted to make the two men feel unwelcome. Besides, Armstrong would kick their asses if they acted unprofessionally. Maybe not physically, but she would destroy their grades. And she certainly could kick their asses. She kickboxed as a hobby.
Riza’s phone vibrated in her pocket again.
RC: I am totally a serious artist and have seen lots of naked people, but omg, I am going to frame these when I’m done and hang them above my bed. I hope I can do those muscles justice.
RH: I just realized Roy will see whatever I draw. Oh god.
Then it was time to silence their phones and start the class. Riza’s heart pounded, and she wasn’t the only student who looked more nervous than they had for the other nude models. Sheska accidentally knocked over all her pencils and looked like she was one step away from hyperventilating. Her face was crimson.
Professor Armstrong went to the smart board where she had some general reminders for figure drawing and respecting the models. She introduced Roy and Jean. Both of them wore polite smiles as they were introduced. Riza didn’t know Jean well enough to guess, but she knew Roy was nervous. He probably could tell she was nervous, too. She reached into her bag for her headphones when he caught her eye.
“Draw me like one of your French girls,” Roy whispered, quietly enough that Armstrong didn’t overhear, but loud enough that Sheska gave a giggle along with Riza’s quiet laugh.
Armstrong came over after a moment. “Go ahead when you’re ready,” she told him nonchalantly. “Just find a position that’s comfortable because you’ll need to hold it as long as you can. Let us know when you need a break.”
And then Roy stood and slipped the cotton robe off his shoulders. He was facing away from Riza as his skin was revealed. His shoulders were broad and muscular, tapering to narrow hips and the most sculpted ass she had ever seen in person. Her breath caught. She tried to look away and pretend she was busy positioning her sketchpad. It didn’t work. Her mouth wouldn’t even shut. She was gaping like a drooling idiot.
He turned around and her eyes darted to the blank paper in front of her. Her peripheral vision was good, and she had the impression of chiseled abs and a thatch of dark hair around his soft cock. Riza couldn’t say she was terribly impressed with flaccid dicks in general. She wanted to see them erect, or why bother looking? But her figure drawing class had at least brought out a small appreciation for them. Plenty of their male models, young and old, had inadvertently ended up with erections at one point during the session.
Biting her lip, she stupidly hoped it would happen to Roy.
She was going to hell.
If Roy ever had an exhibitionist streak, it was gone now. His hands felt clammy as he took position on the platform. Half the class was circled around him, the other around Havoc, which meant Roy had to decide which view to offer Riza. Ass first, profile, or full frontal?
Who had he pissed off in his past lives to deserve this?
In the end, he decided to have her face his side, one hand on his hip, standing loosely. It seemed easy enough. Gracia had kindly warned him he would get tired of holding still without being able to shift his legs.
He pointedly avoided glancing in Riza’s direction. He wasn’t sure he could handle her sharp gaze in this state. Even without seeing her, his awareness of her was excruciating. Her judgement. Sizing him up. Literally. And the room was fucking cold. It really wasn’t the best way to present himself to a girl he was more than a little infatuated with. A girl with a boyfriend, but whatever. They couldn’t be that serious if she never mentioned him.
Armstrong mercifully played soft, classical music, so at least Roy didn’t have to listen to the sounds of college students copying down every imperfection of his body. He liked to think he had a good physique from working out, but he was rethinking it now that Riza was studying him in all his glory.
Roy tried not to look at the clock, instead focusing on a strange, abstract painting someone had propped up against the wall in front of him. He began thinking about his dissertation he was working on, reminding himself to check in with the interlibrary loans he’d requested the week before.
Suddenly, he was aware of an itch on his arm. Then one on his nose.
He really needed to think of something else.
Armstrong was making rounds, occasionally whispering with a student, and her eyes would flicker over him with what he swore was pure disgust. He didn’t take it to heart. She told him when he’d signed the consent forms that the only part of him she found attractive was his "luxurious eyelashes." Roy had decided to take it as the highest compliment, considering. He had fabulous eyelashes.
He was ripped from his thoughts again by noticing an ache in his back. How long had he been standing now? He checked the clock.
Fifteen minutes. Shit. This was a lot worse than expected.
And Riza had probably noticed the dimples above his ass that one girlfriend said was sexy, but another always poked at with her finger.
He didn’t want to think about what Riza would say about it if she were his girlfriend. Nope. He couldn’t go there while standing on a platform where at any given moment one of the students was probably staring at his dick. He let his gaze flicker to one of the male students, a man with a bit of scruff and greasy hair. That was much safer territory to think about. The guy looked like he’d pulled an all-nighter.
The rest of the session dragged on slowly until finally Armstrong called for a break, and Roy broke his pose with a huff, immediately stretching his arms. He tried to act like he wasn’t in a hurry to put the robe on, but the fact was he had never realized how little of his day he spent naked. The shower. Sex, if he was involved with someone. He slept in his underwear. Clothes were comfortable for him, and he was going to relish putting his jeans on again after this.
Riza stared at the paper in front of her. As it turned out, once she’d gotten over her nerves and just started drawing, she’d zoned out. After sketching out most of his form, and some of his face, she’d apparently become very focused on his ass. Way too much on his ass. The muscles. The little dimples on his lower back. The shading was perfect.
Oh god. She couldn’t let him see it.
She quickly turned a fresh page on top of it, smudging be damned.
Except Roy was walking over, probably expecting to critique her work—which had become a tribute to his perfect backside.
He crossed his arms over his robe, clucking his tongue as he came to stand at her side.
“It looks nothing like me.”
She laughed. “I don’t know if you want to see it.”
“Oh, I plan to walk around and look at everyone’s sketches and critique them. If they’re going to critique my body, I’m going to critique their work. It’s only fair.”
She chewed on her lip nervously. “All right. But if you say anything rude, I’m going to tell my father about this whole thing.”
“I would never say anything rude.”
She lifted the page, and the image of Roy, completely nude, was unveiled. It wasn’t as good as the real thing, but the resemblance was unmistakable. She was very good at hair, and he had distinctive hair.
“Ugggh, no. You drew my back dimples,” he said, acting dramatically dismayed.
“Well, I was going to get to your whole back, but I ran out of time,” she said. She felt more self-conscious than she did during class critiques. And Solaris was absolutely vicious with her disparaging opinions.
“I see that. My ass is very well defined though, isn’t it?”
“Uh, well, it’s a part of the body I don’t practice a lot.”
“What, do you think I’ve done a butt study and have a collection of ass drawings in my portfolio?”
He stroked his chin. “It’s either that, or you like my ass.”
“There’s a lot of attention to detail here,” he said. “Look at the shading of my crack.”
“Oh god, please don’t say that again.”
He was enjoying himself far too much. “So you just have some kind of ass fetish? I’ve heard of an ass man, but never an ass woman.”
More like she was attracted to a man who acted like an ass. He just wanted her to admit how good he looked.
“Probably because men want to bend a woman over. If I wanted to bend a man over, well—” she stopped herself. She hadn’t thought this through with how flustered she was.
He choked. “What—do you—?” he asked, horror plain on his face. Great. Now she had scared him off for good. Not that he had been all that interested in her to begin with. And she probably shouldn’t consider dating her father’s student, anyway.
“No, idiot! You just have a nice ass,” she squawked.
Suddenly Professor Armstrong cleared her throat behind them. “I think I have arrived at the wrong moment.”
Riza and Roy elbowed one another accidentally as they hastily turned around.
“Sorry, professor,” Riza said, only mildly ashamed. Armstrong’s lips were pursed as if she were trying to hold back her amusement. Riza had seen her do the same thing when a student did an “abstract” painting that was clearly just a bunch of breasts in different colors.
“You two know each other, right?” Armstrong asked.
Riza was surprised. “Uh, yes, how did you know—?”
Armstrong grinned. “Lucky guess.” She looked at the sketch. “You’re drawing a bit slow today. You usually have more details fleshed out by the end, don’t you?”
Riza had nothing to say that wasn’t a lie, so she just said, “You think so?”
“See if you can’t get a little more done during the next session,” Armstrong suggested, moving onto the next student.
“Hmm, maybe math isn’t for you. You have a lot of talent. This really looks like me.” He grimaced. “For better or worse.”
“Stop fishing for compliments.” He knew how great he looked, clothed or not.
“I’m not. I’m feeling very uncomfortable up there—all my flaws on display.”
“Flaws?” She couldn’t believe him.
“I don’t like my back dimples,” he muttered, avoiding her gaze and studying the sketch with great concentration. Her heart fluttered at his silly insecurity. It was stupidly adorable how such an attractive man could obsess over something that wasn’t even a flaw.
“You’re ridiculous. I study art. People definitely think back dimples are attractive. Stop fishing.”
“On a man? I mean, on a woman I like them, but I probably like anything on a woman.”
Riza laughed. “Honestly, until you brought them up, I thought everyone had them.”
“You have back dimples?”
“And now you’ve given me a complex about them.” She was going to get him back for embarrassing her in front of Armstrong.
“What! No! I just said I like them on women!”
She shrugged. “I don’t know if I can ever let anyone see my back again.”
He groaned miserably, covering his face in his hands. “I can’t win here, can I?’
“If it helps,” Sheska piped up from her own easel. “I’ve read they are also called the Dimples of Venus—or Apollo when it’s a man. It’s considered a sign of luck.” She blushed. “Sorry to eavesdrop.”
“We weren’t talking quietly,” Riza said, dismissing the apology.
“You know,” Roy said abruptly, “I think I’m going to walk around the room. Get moving before I have to become a statue again.” He sounded gruffer than before. Maybe he hadn’t liked Sheska listening into their conversation.
With Roy gone, Riza was less distracted. She turned to look for Rebecca, but she was no where to be found. Havoc was talking with Miles again, and Riza began to wonder if Miles was hitting on the model. Well, better Havoc than Roy, Riza decided. Not that she would be jealous. That was absurd.
She grabbed her phone and saw she’d missed several texts from Rebecca.
RC: I never thought I would be one of those art students who said they were hit with inspiration, but if being horny is inspiration, then I’m super inspired right now
RC: You and sexy grad student over there seem to be getting along
RC: Could you ask him for Jean’s number for me? Miles is hogging him
RC: You're looking a little inspired yourself. Your face is pink
Riza tapped out a reply.
RH: I am so inspired I have made a complete idiot of myself. I shouldn’t be allowed to talk to people when I’m inspired.
RC: Lolololol. We should get coffee after class and discuss
RH: More like beer.
RC: Either one
Riza tucked her phone away again as Armstrong called them back to class. Roy avoided her gaze this time, noticeably less playful than he had been earlier. Armstrong walked over and gave him some instruction, reminding him he could lay down on the platform if he wanted. Then suddenly he was naked again and Armstrong tossed a pillow at him.
When he finally said he was ready, he was mostly facing Riza, laying on his side. His elbow was propped on the pillow, and it made it easy to imagine how he would look on a bed, especially with the white sheet draped across the platform beneath him. His expression was neutral, but she could picture him smirking as he waited for her to join him.
She licked her suddenly dry lips as she began to sketch. Her eyes flickered down, unable to resist following the thin trail of dark hair that led to a partially erect cock. Or at least, she was fairly certain it was just partial. It looked like it had…room to grow. Now not only her face felt warm, but her whole body. Her breasts felt tight and sensitive, and between her legs there was an insistent ache. She was all too inspired , as Rebecca called it.
Inhaling deeply, she began to sketch the outline of his form, determined not to lose focus so entirely that all she drew was his dick. She would never be able to face him again. As it stood, she might have to come up with an excuse to miss the next dinner with her father. He’d just have to figure out the catering on his own.
Thoughts of her father quickly fled as she returned her focus to Roy and the decidedly edible lines of his chest. She’d never been so distracted by a man’s body before, but maybe because she knew this man outside of her classroom, she could effortlessly see herself touching him, pressing her lips to his shoulder, melding bare skin to bare skin…
She dropped her pencil.
When she looked up, she found Roy watching her. His gaze was intense, face flushed, and she couldn’t help it —her eyes darted down.
To keep from gasping, she bit down on her lower lip. Because, oh god, the difference from earlier was substantial. Earlier his erection had been thick, but not jutting out too far. Could have been just a purely physical reaction from being exposed to the air.
Now it was stiff and hard, and looked so smooth . It was impressive. Something she’d want inside her.
She wanted to draw it.
But should she? She sighed, letting her eyes linger on it for a moment. It didn’t seem right, especially considering every time it had happened to other models, she had ignored it, drawing it flaccid or not at all. It felt too invasive. Something she would only draw if she had his indisputable permission. She imagined him sitting on the edge of her bed, touching himself lazily while she drew on her travel sketchpad she could hold in her lap. Being Roy, she was sure he’d demand she be equally naked through the whole thing. Before she could finish her drawing, he’d get impatient and beg her to come join him on the bed…
There was no way she could draw it today.
The rest of class went by in a haze, her nerves on edge. When Roy finally put the robe back on, she packed up her things in record time, worried he would want to look at her drawing, but he seemed as eager to be dressed as Riza was to leave.
“See you next week,” he said with a wave.
Great. Now if she skipped the monthly dinner, he’d think it had something to do with this. That she was too embarrassed to face him after seeing—all of him. To save face, she was going to have to just get through it. It wasn’t like he would bring it up in front of her father. She’d be fine.
“See you next week?” Roy hissed to Havoc as they dressed in the bathroom near the art classroom. “Why did I say that?” Now he had to go, or she’d know he was feeling weird about— oh god —getting hard in front of her. And everyone. He really, really hadn’t wanted to. He’d tried thinking of everything unsexy he could, to no avail.
“Don’t be a coward. Just go. You have nothing to be ashamed of, man,” Havoc said.
Roy snorted. “Did you get a boner during class?”
“Yep. I couldn’t help it.” That made Roy feel a little better. “But I also believe in the naturalness of the naked body.”
“You’re just quoting that bullshit Armstrong had on the board.”
“I’ve never felt so objectified in my life.” Havoc laughed. “I didn’t mind.”
Roy had come to an entirely different conclusion. He’d always known he preferred to have sex when he was in a relationship, but apparently that extended to being naked as well. It was one thing to be naked in a locker room, or changing here with Havoc, it was another to stand in front of a large group accepting their silent judgement. It was a miracle he’d been able to get hard at all.
But he’d seen Riza looking, and her mouth had been open just right, lips full, cheeks pink, and he’d been thinking about the fact that she had back dimples. He could imagine caressing them while she was bent over the bed—
He hadn’t missed her looking at him, because of course she had to look, she was drawing him. And his disloyal dick had only perked up more at the attention. He should’ve just let her draw his ass again.
“I’m also positive this was somehow an elaborate ploy to humiliate me in front of her,” Roy said, finally pulling his shirt over his head. “Hughes knows I’ve got a bit of a thing for her.” A big thing. “And Gracia and Armstrong are friends…I don’t know how, but I’m sure they did this on purpose.”
“I don’t think Gracia is that cruel. Armstrong, yeah. And Hughes would think he was doing you a favor, but Gracia wouldn’t do that.”
Roy considered it. “Or would she? She is married to Hughes.”
Havoc shrugged. “Then why have me dragged into it?”
“Good point. Fine. It’s all just an unfortunate coincidence that undid all my efforts to get Riza to like me.”
“Your efforts? I thought you said she has a boyfriend.”
“Shut up. Don’t remind me,” he said, but there was no venom to it. “Now, if you don’t mind, I’m going to call Hughes and tell him we’re no longer friends.”
The next Friday, Riza picked up the catering for her father like she did every month. She pulled into the garage in the extra spot he always left for her, even though she was rarely there anymore. She rented a house with Rebecca and a couple other girls, but sometimes when she needed to be alone, she came to her childhood home. There had been plenty of alone time there after her mother died, and it was no different now except that her father had finally hired a house cleaner to come by weekly, so the place didn’t descend into a pigsty without Riza to look after things.
He was something of an absentminded professor when it came to most aspects of his life. Worse than an absentminded professor, actually, because she had seen how he took care to remember other things. Things he deemed worth caring about. He could never remember that Riza had broken up with her boyfriend almost a year ago, but he knew every little change Roy had made to his dissertation and why.
Her father was lounging in the den with a book when she walked by, encumbered with bags from the catering.
“Hi, Dad,” she called in passing.
“Hello,” he said distractedly, obviously concentrating on his book.
“How many are coming tonight?” she asked. He had ordered a lot more food than usual, and he always ordered extra. She usually took home the leftovers to her roommates.
“About ten,” he said. “A couple of old friends from ASA are in town.”
Riza froze, looking down at her clothes. She’d never really needed to impress anyone at these dinners before. She was wearing jeans and a too-big shirt she’d caught from a t-shirt canon at a football game.
“Yes, I thought it’d be a nice surprise for Roy.”
She rubbed her temples. This was just like her father. “You didn’t warn him?” she asked.
“Oh, he’d just get himself worked up. This way he’ll be relaxed.”
Riza thought the opposite. Most people liked to prepare before meeting anyone intimidating.
“Who is it from ASA?” she asked instead, wishing she had Roy’s number so she could give him a head’s up.
“Izumi Curtis and—uh—your grandfather,” he said, voice going quieter at the last part. Guilty.
“Dad! This is going to be a disaster.” He and Grandpa Grumman always ended up arguing, and it was even worse since her mother died.
“He wanted to see you. I asked him to bring Izumi and her husband as buffers.”
“Well, Grumman is very interested in Roy’s dissertation. And Izumi is right up your alley, isn’t she? She worked with your mother, you recall.”
Despite her annoyance, Riza was a little pleased at that. Izumi was brilliant.
“I’m not sure that will help anything if you and Grandpa end up yelling at one another.”
Her father coughed. “There’s plenty of wine in the chiller, isn’t there?”
“Like wine is going to help?”
“I’ll save it for after dinner,” he said sullenly.
With a roll of her eyes, she went to prep for dinner. With so many guests, she could only pray her father and grandfather would be on their best behavior. There had been one memorable time when her mother was still alive where they were almost arrested for disturbing the peace. During a family picnic.
Separately, the two of them were fine. In fact, her grandfather never forgot her birthday, and he always asked after her studies like he was genuinely interested, and if he truly was curious about Roy’s dissertation…
She chewed on her lip, thinking. It could be beneficial to her, too. Izumi Curtis was a genius, doing such innovative work…
Ten minutes later, Riza was in her childhood bedroom, frantically searching for something more suitable to wear. Most of her clothes were at her house, but she didn’t have time to drive back toward campus to change. She did have some more formal things she’d left behind in her old closet to save space.
Finally, she found a simple black dress. It had a high neck and fluttering short sleeves, but it was a little shorter than she would wear for a professional dinner. She found some black tights in her dresser, and even a pair of scuffed black heels that would work perfectly. She shucked off her jeans and shirt in record time, running into the private bath connected to her bedroom to fix her hair into something smoother. The messy bun she’d worn to classes all day wouldn’t cut it for Izumi Curtis.
But then she thought of Roy, and how the last time she’d added some red lipstick he’d been staring at her mouth all night. In fact, she had some in her bathroom from a box of things she’d brought over while cleaning out the bathroom she shared with her roommates. Searching through the box under the cabinet, she also found an unopened box of condoms that had been tossed in with the other odds and ends. Her first instinct was to toss them out, but then…inspiration hit.
It was a stroke of luck that Roy arrived before Izumi and Riza’s grandfather. She saw his car through the window, and she rushed to the door to let him in. She was so eager to warn him about the VIP guests she almost forgot that the last time they had been together he’d been naked.
Opening the door, her heart skipped when she saw him. He was wearing a tie, which she already had a weakness for when it came to Roy, but he’d also gone full hipster and donned suspenders . Oh, if she’d wanted to draw him naked, now she was adding drawing him in this, too.
“What are you so dressed up for?” he asked, and she was reminded that she was more dolled up than she’d ever been around him before. “You have a date with your boyfriend after this?”
“No,” she said. “Izumi Curtis and my grandfather are coming to dinner. They both work for ASA.”
“Uh—what?” He looked mildly panicked as he stepped into the entryway.
She sighed. “My dad thought it’d be a fun surprise, but I also think he didn’t want to tell me because he always fights with Grandpa. They disagree on everything from politics to how to cook a steak. I thought you should be warned,” she said quietly, glancing over her shoulder for her father’s presence. He was in the dining room with a pair of professors and another student who had already arrived.
“Your grandfather?” His eyebrows disappeared behind his messy hair. Roy knew very well who her grandfather was. “I would’ve thought of some questions—”
“Don’t worry about that. He’s actually interested in your dissertation, but don’t let my dad know I told you.”
“I won’t. Thanks for the heads up.”
“No problem.” She smiled. “I also should say you’re definitely wise to always dress to impress. I had to throw this outfit together last minute with what was left in my old room.”
“You look good.” Roy’s eyes drifted over her, and it reminded her of what he’d said earlier. She decided to test something.
“So I’m not dressed up for a date with my boyfriend,” she said. “No boyfriend at all, actually. Although my dad thinks I’m still dating the guy I broke up with last year.” She let the words hang, watching him shrewdly.
He was good at hiding his feelings, she’d noticed. He did it to put people at ease, to charm people. Every dinner he pretended to enjoy her father’s jokes. But she could feel her heart threatening to pound out of her chest when she saw the subtle pleased smile on his face.
“No boyfriend, huh?” he asked, and she swore his voice was deeper than before.
“No. I’ve told my dad about ten times that we broke up, but it doesn’t stick.”
“Yes, he has mentioned a boyfriend. Some physics guy?”
“A phys ed major,” she corrected with a laugh. “He was nice, but we were better off as friends.” She’d noticed that she was counting down the days until she saw Roy with more excitement than her own boyfriend. She had barely known Roy, but he’d ignited something in her that her ex-boyfriend just couldn’t. She’d been so confused all this time, wondering if Roy was interested in her or not. He was friendly, sometimes a little flirty, but he always backed off before it went anywhere. Now she knew why.
She might have to kill her father.
It seemed Roy still didn’t know what to do with the information that she was single because he was completely silent. Maybe she’d read him wrong.
A knock at the door broke the silence, causing both of them to jump.
“I’ll catch up with you later,” he said, excusing himself to the dining room. Riza was left opening the door for Maes and his girlfriend—no, wife. They had married over the summer.
“Usually you and Roy come together. What made you bring Gracia to this boring evening?” she teased.
“Oh, he’s unfriended me,” Maes said, completely delighted. “I heard all about—art class.”
Riza fought back a blush. She was a serious artist, as Rebecca always said. She was not embarrassed by the human form, naked or not.
“Yes, it was quite a surprise to see him there,” she said politely. “Why did he unfriend you for it, though?”
“He’s convinced I knew you would be there.”
Riza frowned. “Did you?”
“No! I didn’t know you took art classes at all. But I did laugh at him.”
“A lot,” Gracia added delicately. “He had tears streaming down his face he was laughing so hard when Roy called.”
“Maybe that will teach him not to make stupid bets,” Riza said with a shrug. She wondered why Roy was being extra touchy about it.
“That’s what I said,” Gracia agreed. “We couldn’t have known he knew someone in the class! And Armstrong just happened to ask if I knew anyone who’d be interested right when we’d gotten to the restaurant.”
Maes snorted. “Or maybe the guys just need to learn how to handle their hot wings like I do.”
“You didn’t handle it very well yourself,” Gracia said, tugging on her husband’s arm. “I was there later that night when you—”
“Oh! You hear that? I think Roy’s calling me,” Maes said, practically dragging his wife down the hall in record time.
Roy was in trouble. He was supposed to be impressing Grumman, one of his personal heroes. Instead, he was salivating over the man’s granddaughter, who was wearing a little black dress and the reddest lipstick. It was positively sinful to be so hard at the dinner table, but he was. Riza sat next to her grandfather, and Roy was across from the man, and if Roy hadn’t been submerged in his research for almost two years, he would’ve only been able to give Grumman gibberish.
Because Riza didn’t have a boyfriend.
Now the only hurdle was the fact her father was his advisor and her grandfather had Roy’s dream job dangling on a string. If he screwed things up with Riza, would his career also potentially implode? Roy had no safety net, no well-connected family members. His aunt was supportive, yes, but she didn’t know the first thing about the competitive world of academics. Then again, he didn’t think Riza was the vindictive type—and it wasn’t like they were jumping straight into marriage . Even though he could imagine being married to her. Easily.
Riza smiled at him across the table, but her eyes weren’t on his face. His body tightened as he recognized the sensation as the same one he’d felt in art class. She knew what he looked like with his clothes off, and he just knew in his gut she was recalling that image right there at the table.
“So, Roy, do you have a girlfriend—boyfriend?” Grumman asked in that way older people did when they were uncomfortable but trying their best.
“Grandpa,” Riza hissed.
“What? Does he?”
“No, I don’t,” Roy answered smoothly.
“Riza here is single,” Grumman said slyly.
“Grandpa!” she repeated. Her eyes darted to Izumi at her other side.
“Oh, I’d listen to him,” Izumi said, dropping into the conversation with ease. “Grumman introduced me to Sig.” Izumi clung to her much larger husband’s arm with a lovesick expression. “We’ve been happily married for almost twenty years now.”
Roy grinned even as he nervously looked down the table where Dr. Hawkeye sat. Fortunately, the man was too deeply involved in conversation with Hughes to know what his father-in-law was saying.
Knowing his advisor wasn’t listening, Roy regained some confidence. “You hear that, Riza? It’s destiny.”
“You should know that Grandpa has already tried to set me up with every available bachelor within his vicinity,” she said wryly.
They all laughed at that, Grumman holding up his hands in defeat.
“But at least you know your father already likes this one, which is more than you can say about the last few,” Roy overheard Grumman whisper.
Not for the first time, Roy wondered about Riza’s relationship with her father. Clearly, the man wasn’t invested enough in his daughter’s social life to remember whether she had a boyfriend or not. Roy wanted to kick his advisor for not keeping the facts straight on that one. Roy could’ve made a move—
He clenched his jaw when as he watched the stretch of Riza’s beautiful neck as she laughed at something Izumi said. Yeah, maybe it wasn’t the safest choice to ask her out, but he had a good feeling about it. Ever since they’d met, it had felt like being by her side was where he was meant to be. He’d felt the same pull toward engineering and his dreams of working for ASA. It felt right.
If she was single, Roy knew he wasn’t going to be able to resist pursuing something with her, his advisor be damned.
“You know, Grandpa, Roy is also something of a model,” Riza said.
And suddenly Roy wanted to kill her. He froze with his spoon still in his mouth. She wasn’t about to tell her grandfather she’d drawn him naked, right? That was wrong on so many levels.
“Oh?” Grumman asked, completely oblivious.
“Yes, he modeled for my art class last week,” she said.
Grumman perked up in utter delight. “She’s just as talented as my wife was,” he said as an aside to Roy. “Riza inherited everything from my side of the family—the math skills from me and her mother, and the creative side from her grandmother.”
Riza positively blushed. “She was a professional illustrator,” she said. “I just dabble.”
“Well, I have no talent at all. Everything you do is a masterpiece to me,” Grumman said.
“I also lack any talent. I’m more of a muse, I guess you could say.” Roy gave Riza piercing look, daring her to out him for nude modeling. He’d drag her down with him in front of Izumi. She’d drawn a very accurate depiction of his ass, after all.
Grumman chuckled. “But it’s nice that you support the arts. Unlike some people,” he said, glowering down the table at Dr. Hawkeye.
Riza gave Roy a meaningful look. Now he understood her point. She wasn’t torturing Roy. She was giving him a boost with her grandfather who loved art.
“Where would the sciences be without the arts and vice versa?” Roy offered. “Innovative research at ASA has certainly been pushed by those with the ability to think both critically and creatively.”
“You’re right about that! Original minds are what we need these days. Anyone can be book smart, but not everyone can create something new.”
The rest of the conversation was much the same. Roy made good points and felt like he was really demonstrating his capabilities to the older man. Everything was going well.
Until dessert was brought out. There was tiramisu and gelato, and while no one had any complaints about the food, somehow Grumman and Dr. Hawkeye began to speak.
And by speak, Roy meant argue.
“Coffee should be brewed from freshly ground beans, end of story,” Grumman said. For anyone else, it would have been lighthearted discussion, but based on the tone and the way Riza stared intently at her plate, there was more to it than just coffee.
“As long as it tastes good, I don’t think it matters,” Hawkeye retorted. “Do you have the same requirements for soda?”
“I think you mean pop,” Grumman said. “And I don’t drink it.”
“Of course you don’t. But what about alcohol? Do you need your wine straight out the barrel?”
“No, aged is best—”
“You are so pretentious—”
“If you teach your tastebuds—”
“I only need it for nourishment so why does it matter—”
“It’s about your health, your constitution—”
It was around then that Hughes and Gracia made their excuses, wise people that they were, but Roy could not. He saw how uncomfortable Riza was, and Izumi and Marcoh’s attempts to divert the conversation failed. Miserably. Roy wasn’t going to leave Riza alone.
She began to collect the dessert plates when Roy saw his opportunity. He leapt to his feet to help, grabbing the plates on his side of the table and joining her at the sink.
“I’m so sorry about them,” Riza said. “According to my mother, they’ve never gotten along. I sometimes wonder if she didn’t marry him just to get back at Grandpa.”
“Why would she want to do that?”
She hesitated, her eyes flickering to her grandfather. “He’s different with me, but he wasn’t very supportive of her ambitions. He thought the sciences were for men. They didn’t speak for years. It was only when she got sick that they began to mend things, and by then, well…” she trailed off.
“Too late to fix things,” Roy interpreted.
“Much too late. I think they were both too proud to try. My father has never forgiven Grandpa, naturally.”
Riza shrugged. “It was a different time, and he’s learned his lesson. He’s more supportive than my father. He wants me to do what makes me happy.”
Roy nodded, drying a plate distractedly. His own parents had died when he was too young to remember much about them. The grief was there, but he knew it wasn’t the same as losing a parent when you were older. Riza had been ten, from what he remembered Dr. Hawkeye saying.
“I think all families have a bit of dysfunction if you look hard enough,” he said. His aunt came to mind. “Did I mention my aunt who raised me—”
“Aunt Christmas,” Riza said, smiling. “How could I forget?”
“She’s rather eccentric.” He decided to lay it all out there. And it might just cheer her up. “She’s an Elvis impersonator on the weekends. A rather… rotund one.”
She dropped the plate she was washing into the water, causing a splash. “What? Why have you never mentioned this amazing piece of information before?”
“Because it’s ridiculous.”
“I need to see this.”
“That’s a terrible idea.”
“I’m going to look her up. Does she do shows every weekend?”
“She travels a lot, and not every weekend. It’s more of a hobby than job.”
Riza nodded, picking the plate back up. “This does make me feel a little better about my family.”
With perfect timing, Dr. Hawkeye’s voice shouted, “I will never drink sweet tea! I’m an Amestrian!”
Riza shared a look with Roy, and they both laughed. She didn’t need to explain her father’s eccentricities to him. The man was brilliant, but with brilliance came some… quirks .
“The dishes are about done, do you want to get out of here?” she asked, voice low. “Actually, I have some of my old art in my room…if you’d like to see.”
Roy’s body came alive. Was that an invitation? No, of course it wasn’t. Her father and grandfather were down here, for one. It was probably just an escape from the arguing.
Whatever her meaning, Roy wasn’t going to turn her down.
A moment later they were tiptoeing up the stairs, a part of the house Roy had never been before. He suddenly was a teenager visiting a girl’s room for the first time. The uncertain but eager optimism. The flutter of nerves in his stomach. The unfortunately sweaty palms…
“Here’s my room,” she said, leading him into a bedroom. He barely noticed her shutting the door behind them. He was struck by the juxtaposition of the colorful artwork on her walls—some prints from her favorite artists—and the simplicity of the furnishings of her room. Everything was very practical. A tidy desk near the window, a full-size bed in the corner, neatly made. There was a bookshelf and a nightstand.
“This definitely seems like your room,” he said. “You're a mix of practical and creative.”
She looked pleased at the assessment, and he let out the breath he’d been holding.
“Just don’t look in my closet,” she said, hurrying to shut the closet door. Inside he saw a mess of clothes across the floor. “I kind of tore it apart looking for something to wear last minute.”
“When you see my place, you will not be embarrassed by your closet. My whole room looks like a tornado went through it,” he said.
She raised an eyebrow. “ When I see it? Are you inviting me over?”
He had to go all in. He’d regret it if he didn’t. “Yes. You should come over. I could make you dinner,” he said.
She’d already seen him naked. She’d seen him at dinners for months now. If she wanted to date him, she would have already made up her mind. There was nothing he could do to change it now.
“You cook?” she asked.
“I can make a few things exceptionally well, and a lot of things averagely well.”
“I know you’re not lying because Hughes told me you make the best pancakes, but that you once set fire to a chicken you were roasting in the oven.”
“I accidentally left some plastic wrapping on the bottom of the pan,” he said defensively.
She sidled closer. “So. If I came over…would you make me pancakes?”
His heart pounded. “That’s something I only make for breakfast.”
Her hands reached out, gently snapping the suspenders on his chest. He’d put them on half as a joke, half because a girl on the street told him he looked like her favorite actor the last time he’d worn them. Seeing the way they engrossed Riza, he was beginning to believe it was an excellent choice.
“Hmm,” she said. “How do I get an invite to breakfast, then?”
He inhaled sharply, desire building. He was getting ridiculously aroused just by how close she was, the warmth from her radiating into his skin. Looking down at her, he realized she was the perfect height for kissing.
“You’re invited to breakfast anytime,” he said.
She chewed on her lower lip, and Roy wanted to kiss her, but she was still staring at his chest, amber eyes as focused on him as they had been during that infernal art class.
“I can’t stop thinking about what you look like under these,” she whispered, still not looking him in the eye. “How am I supposed to act like a decent human being at dinner when I know what you look like underneath this sexy tie and these insanely hot suspenders? It’s not fair.”
He couldn’t believe the words crossing her lips. “You like what I’m wearing?”
“Yes.” She rolled her eyes. “You know you always look…good.”
He grinned, feeling a bit devilish. That feeling that he was right where he was supposed to be was strong, encouraging him to take risks. “Even without them on?”
“Especially without them on,” she said. Finally, she tilted her head to meet his gaze.
They met in the middle, and he was right, she was the perfect height for kissing. Her lips were soft and plush, and fuck, she tasted good. He could faintly taste the tiramisu they’d eaten for dessert. Their mouths pressed together in open kisses as her fingers hesitantly traced down his sides, sending blood straight to his cock.
Damn, he wasn’t sure this could go very far. He didn’t have a condom on him, and he wasn’t about to pressure her and ask if she had one stashed away in her childhood bedroom. And that thought shouldn’t turn him on, but suddenly he was very keen to defile her here.
She gasped into his mouth as his hands found her hips. “Is it okay to touch—?” he asked. Her eyes fluttered open, dazed.
“You can touch me wherever you like,” she murmured. She took his hand and guided it to her breast. Her tongue shyly licked at his lips, and when he returned the favor, her shyness vanished. She arched against him, hips rolling into his erection as she moaned quietly. He swallowed her tempting sounds, shuddering when she reached into his back pocket and grabbed him, like she wanted them closer when there was already not even an inch of space between them. It was addictive how much she wanted him . He was used to being the one to make a move, to nudge the intimacy patiently forward, the women he’d dated before expecting him to make a grand effort, which he was happy to do.
But Riza was different. It was like they were on even ground—perfectly balanced.
“So, I wasn’t entirely thinking with my brain when I asked you up here,” she confessed, pausing to kiss him again. “But I do have some condoms in my bathroom. That is if you want—”
“I want to,” he blurted out before she could finish. “I really want to.” He kissed her deeply. “I’ve wanted to since we first met.”
She stepped back, tugging at his tie. “Really? I’m positive I was wearing my raggedy old sweatshirt that day because I remember seeing you in your tie and thinking I must look like a slob to you.”
“No. You looked perfect.” She’d been the first woman he’d taken one glance at and thought, there, that was the woman he was going to marry. He couldn’t explain it. “But you had a boyfriend. I was a little devastated.” A lot devastated.
“Meeting you was the beginning of the end of that relationship.” It was then he noticed she had already undone his tie. She tossed it to the floor and began working on the buttons of his shirt. “You and your ties. I had an instant crush on you.”
He groaned at that, feeling incredibly smug and satisfied that he’d indirectly stolen her from her boyfriend. Maybe he wasn’t a good person, but it thrilled him.
“Are you going to tell me what had you so turned on during class last week?” she asked, her lips grazing his jaw as she made her way to his ear. Pleasant chills ran down his back as she whispered in his ear, “If you tell me, I might tell you what I was imagining doing to you while I was drawing.”
“It’s not nearly as exciting as you might think,” he warned her, feeling the heat rush to his cheeks, even as his cock remained steadfastly erect.
“I still want to know.” She rocked against him, the soft curves of her molding against him. If she was extracting information from him, she was succeeding. She’d also somehow removed his shirt and suspenders without him noticing.
“You said you had back dimples,” he confessed, biting back another groan as she undid his zipper. “It was a detail I couldn’t let go of. Thinking of you bent over. And then—and then you looked at me.” He hissed through his teeth as her hand wriggled into his boxer-briefs to wrap around him. “You licked your lips, and you looked at me—fuck, do you know how long you looked?”
And then she dropped to her knees, and his body almost buckled in anticipation.
“What can I say? I was inspired.” She took him into her wet mouth, tongue dragging along the underside of him, and then she applied suction and he cried out, biting down on a knuckle to keep quiet, remembering the dinner party downstairs. He’d completely forgotten about them, though he could hear indistinct conversation still.
He wanted to tease her more, promise to return the favor with her laid out on the bed, but he was too wrecked to do more than curse and try not to thrust. Her eyes were hot, determined, and she was still completely clothed while her pretty red lips stretched around his cock. She hummed against him, vibrations zinging across his skin. Losing control in response, he bucked a little too hard, but she grabbed his thighs and took it.
He almost came down her throat, biting his tongue hard to keep himself with it.
“Did you—did you still want to use those condoms? Otherwise, I’m about to lose it,” he panted.
She took him down to the hilt one last time, then pulled off languidly, like she was daring him to unload across her talented tongue as she maintained the suction until she popped off.
He helped her up, kissing her hungrily to taste himself on her. The hint of salt caused his cock to twitch eagerly, reminding him they weren’t finished.
“Let me get them,” she said. “Oh—and maybe lock the door for me?”
Roy whirled around and locked the door in record time, too aroused to care that it had been unlocked the whole time. When he turned around, he saw her kicking off her shoes. He did the same, realizing that somehow he was almost entirely naked in front of her once again while she was fully clothed. What kind of magic had she worked on him? He racked his brain, but he was sure this had never happened to him before. A woman had never managed to get him naked first.
He would have to rectify the situation and even things out.
“I’ve actually never had sex in here before,” she said, returning with a condom. “These just got shuffled in here when I was trying to make space in the bathroom I share with my roommates.”
He could honestly say he didn’t care if she’d had sex in there before or not. Except now that she’d said it, he once again felt very smug to be the first to christen her bedroom.
“I’m just happy you had them,” he said.
“Me too.” She grinned, pulling him in for another kiss. His hands began to work up her dress, determined to reveal her bare skin. Unable to help himself, he caressed the dimples just above her ass, vaguely remembering that Sheska thought being born with them was lucky. Listening to Riza pant in his ear, he was beginning to believe it. He had to be lucky to finally have her in his arms, willing and confident. They broke their kiss so he could pull her dress off. “To be perfectly honest,” she said. “I invited you up here with the intention of using this.”
She gestured to the condom between her fingers.
He barely looked at it, eyes drawn to her body. Her sensible black bra and her tights were covering all the best parts, but he would fix that. Dragging her against him, he kissed her fiercely, walking her backward to the bed. She moaned into his mouth as he pressed her down into the mattress. He had never bothered to master the art of removing a woman’s bra, and he found it a little more enticing to shove it down. Her breasts were pushed upward as the band wadded up underneath them, exposing them just how he liked.
She gasped as he took the tip of her breast into his mouth, swirling his tongue around it. Her hands threaded into his hair, clutching him to her, and he had to hold back a smile to continue pleasuring her. He thought of what her mouth had done to him, and he was dying to return the favor.
First, her tights had to go.
Regretfully leaving her breasts, he kissed down her taut stomach, covered in goosebumps. He dipped his fingers into the sides of her tights and rolled them down, revealing smooth, strong legs. They trembled against him as he slipped her underwear down.
Keeping an eye on her face for permission, he gently circled his fingers around her ankle before placing a kiss to the soft skin of her calf, another on the inside of her knee, climbing higher. Her breaths grew ragged as she stared at him in anticipation. Her thighs tensed as he shouldered them apart, and he nipped her playfully, earning a whine.
“Shh,” he reminded her. “Can you be quiet?”
“Yes,” she said, squirming as his arms locked around her legs, holding her open for him. “I’m generally rather quiet in bed.” It sounded like an embarrassed confession. Like it was a weakness.
“As long as we can tell we’re enjoying each other, it doesn’t matter,” he said. He teased a finger down her slit. Her hips canted closer. “And you seem to be enjoying this.”
She only nodded, biting her lip.
He considered for a moment how to begin. He wanted so many things, had imagined many different ways of having her, but he needed to go by what her body was asking for.
He leaned closer, letting his breath fan tantalizing against her folds.
“Roy,” she whimpered.
He could listen to her say his name like that forever and never get tired of it. He pressed against her, his tongue tasting, licking, and circling. Her body seized in pleasure around him, her legs squeezing him. He wanted nothing more than to feel her fall apart on his tongue, and he drew on everything he knew to make it happen.
He wove his hand between them, tracing around her opening.
“Oh, please,” she whispered, but she might as well have shouted for how demanding she was. He complied, thrusting two fingers inside her. She moaned, loud enough that Roy felt a trickle of fear they’d be heard downstairs. She was rather loud for someone who claimed to be quiet in bed, but he soon dismissed his worries, lost in the feeling of her walls trembling around him. He was forced to close his eyes, struggling not to lose patience at the thought of burying his cock inside there. He wasn’t an animal, and the waiting would be more than worth it.
“Ah, yes like that,” she said, as he found a solid rhythm between his tongue and his fingers. “Oh god. Oh. You’re—you’re really good at this,” she cut herself off, muffling herself with her hand. She mewled, her hips rising forcefully of the bed. He thought she was close, her breaths coming quicker and harsher.
His mind was awash with need, the need to make her come, the need to make this good for her, the need to finally have her wrapped around him.
She came with a muffled shout, her legs shaking violently around him, her body throbbing against his mouth and fingers. He eased off, but didn’t stop, hoping to extend her pleasure for as long as he could.
“Mhmm, that was so good,” she said as he slowed his licks. She squirmed, like she was ready for him to climb on top of her.
He kept going. He wanted to build her back up again before he finally pushed inside her. Her legs shifted around him, her moans high and soft.
“I’m getting—sensitive,” she said.
He eased off, leaving only his fingers, keeping up the rhythm. “I just want you to enjoy this as much as I’m going to.”
She laughed quietly. “Just hurry up and fuck me.” Her hips wriggled against his fingers, searching for more, and he was long past ready to give it to her. She fumbled for the condom, which had been momentarily lost in the wrinkles of the blanket. Regretfully, he removed his fingers from her warmth.
Taking steadying breaths, his body feeling tight and raw, he tore open the wrapper. He wanted to act like he wasn’t in a hurry, like he wasn’t about to explode, but he knew she’d see right through any attempts to be nonchalant. He rolled the condom on with shaking hands, grateful for the barrier. He might last more than three strokes with its help.
He climbed on top of her the second the condom was in place, reveling in how perfect she felt beneath him. She arched up, her breasts grazing his chest as they met for a brief kiss that was deliciously sloppy as their attention was diverted by his erection brushing against her center.
Rocking forward with the guidance of his hand, he pushed inside her, groaning at the tightness as she fluttered around him until he was fully sheathed. He listened carefully for any noise of discomfort, but she wrapped her legs around him, urging him on with a moan.
As he planted his knees for a better angle, he couldn’t stop himself from surging in and out again. He wanted to come so desperately, but he would hold off as long as he could. He didn’t want her to regret inviting him into her bed.
“Ah, oh—Roy, yes!” she cried out, her fingernails scraping along his back, egging him on. The pressure mounted as she held him closer, muffling her cries into his shoulder, but as hot as her noises were, he had recently learned he was not an exhibitionist. He had no desire to be overheard by anyone—particularly her father.
He swiped his thumb across her lower lip. “Do I need to cover your mouth?” he asked, teasing, catching her eye as he thrust hard again. Rather than quietening, she helplessly bit her lip, whimpering loudly. Her gaze was scorching. “Oh, you want me to, don’t you?” He hid his own groan against her neck.
She moaned, daring him with an enthusiastic nod. Moving before he could lose his nerve, he kissed her before cupping his hand across her mouth, still temptingly red from her lipstick despite everything they had done. Her lips were warm against his palm, her breath moist against it. She writhed against him, and he couldn’t believe how much such a simple gesture seemed to turn her into a mess of arousal beneath him. Every moan after that was barely muted, and he was covered in a sheen of sweat attempting to restrain himself.
His good intentions were lost when she huffed against him, a shout of his name forced from her throat as she stiffened under him. His hand fell to the side of her head, freeing her for a rough kiss as he fucked her in earnest, unable to hold back a moment longer. With each thrust he was rewarded with a heady gasp in his ear, and then it was his turn to fall apart, shaking so much his arms collapsed.
His eyes were shut when he felt her thumb trace his temple, placing a soft kiss against his neck. He was still recovering—body and mind. How long had he been lusting after her? Over a year. And with each interaction, he’d grown more and more infatuated with her. He couldn’t entirely comprehend that she’d initiated something he’d been wanting all this time. That she didn’t have a boyfriend. That she’d seen him naked and hard in her art class and then chose to do this—
“So, you liked what you saw last week, huh?” he asked, unable to stop the idiocy spilling from his mouth.
She laughed. “Get off me. Your inflated ego weighs a ton.” He obliged, rolling to the side—he also carefully removed the condom, pinching it off.
“You’re a mathematician. You know it adds up.”
“All this time, you never made a move.” It was reasonable to think it was the sight of his body that gave her confidence to invite him up here. And he loved that idea more than was probably right.
“Neither did you!”
“I thought you had a boyfriend. That doesn’t count. You knew I was single.”
She rolled her eyes, but her smile remained. “I kind of thought you would’ve made a move if you were interested. I could tell you were keeping me at a distance. I thought it was…because of my dad.”
Roy made a face. That wasn’t what you wanted to think about directly after having sex.
“It’s not…ideal,” he admitted. “But no, obviously that wasn’t it. So what was your reason for making a move tonight? You all but seduced me.”
“Well, you made it very clear that you thought I’d had a boyfriend all this time. And knowing that was probably why you hadn’t asked me out—”
“And knowing how hot I looked naked,” he interrupted.
She hid her face in her pillow. “Maybe that was a compelling reason. I can’t say.”
His own reasons for not asking her out immediately after that came back to him.
“But you’ll protect me from your dad if he tries to shoot me, right?”
“I’m a better shot than him,” she said. “And if he’s going to be mad at anyone, it would be me. He’ll think I’m a distraction to your career.”
He kissed her. “If anything, I will be motivated to impress you.”
Roy stood, slipping into her bathroom to toss the condom in the trash. He almost expected her to start dressing by the time he returned, but she was still lounging on the bed, looking thoroughly fucked and relaxed. He knew he should probably put on some clothes, too. The others probably thought they were hiding from the arguing, but he didn’t want to chance anything.
He dragged his eyes up her naked form, and she patted the bed for him to join her. There was no way he could resist.
He settled in beside her, pulling the throw blanket from the end of the bed over them. It was the kind of domesticity of having a girlfriend he loved. Though they would have to actually have a talk about that. Surely, she was on the same page as him, but then again, she’d surprised him before.
Being a coward, instead he asked, “I thought you said you were quiet in bed.”
“I knew you would bring that up!” She went back to hiding her face in the pillow. “I swear, I wasn’t lying.”
“Once again, my sweet mathematician, the math isn’t adding up.”
“I’ve had a boyfriend complain because he thought I wasn’t having a good time.” She laughed to herself. “In light of new evidence, I think I wasn’t having a very good time.”
Roy grinned, pride bursting at her subtle compliment. “Then you did have a good time?”
“Are you fishing again?”
“It’s good to know what you like so I can do it next time.” Next time. It was the coward’s step toward defining their relationship.
“Do it all again. Everything was…amazing.”
“I thought so, too. You were incredible.” He reinforced his words by kissing her, savoring the comfort of their sated bodies huddled together. Leaving the bed to head downstairs was repellent when he had her tucked against him. He wondered if it would be too forward to invite her over that night with the promise of pancakes in the morning…
It was still dark outside when Riza awoke with a start, still naked and spooning against Roy. In her bed. At her father’s house.
They’d fallen asleep. She had no idea where her phone was, but Roy wore a smart watch. She tapped on his wrist that was sprawled above her head. It was five in the morning.
“Roy!” she hissed, shaking him awake. “We fell asleep!”
He immediately sat up. “Shit. Sorry.”
“No, I fell asleep, too,” she said, leaping out of bed. She ran to the bathroom where she’d left her more casual outfit from the day before. She could hear Roy rushing to put on his own clothes.
Ten minutes later, they were both a little more cleaned up and quietly laughing like teenagers as they stood behind her door, afraid to leave her room.
“He must not have noticed my car if he didn’t come looking for me,” Roy said. It was logical enough. Riza had no idea what her father would do if he thought she had a man staying over in her old room, let alone one of his doctoral students.
“He’s usually not up until six, so leaving now is probably best,” she said.
Assuming Roy escaped unnoticed, she had no idea what she would say to her father about her own spontaneous sleepover. She sometimes stayed the night after their dinners, but she usually let him know ahead of time. Maybe she could put the blame on him arguing with Grandpa Grumman? She didn’t like lying, but sometimes it was best for both of them. She doubted her father would prefer she admit to fucking his protégé.
“Do you—do you want to come with me?” Roy asked. “We could find a diner that’s open and get breakfast.”
“Breakfast sounds nice,” she said, smiling. And her stomach filled with butterflies as he beamed back at her. He was so handsome and kind and charming and—he liked her .
He took her hand as they descended the stairs, tiptoeing quietly. The stairs came out in between the kitchen and the living area, but the lights were off and the TV wasn’t on. Her father usually watched the news when he first woke up.
It wasn’t until they reached the bottom that she smelled the coffee in the air.
“Good morning!” her father boomed, and Riza jumped, stumbling into Roy. Her father sat at the kitchen island in his bathrobe, his laptop in front of him.
“Good morning, Dr. Hawkeye,” Roy said politely. Like he wasn’t doing the walk of shame with his suspenders hanging off his hips, sex hair sticking up in every direction.
“I wondered why your car was still in the driveway,” her father said nonchalantly. But he gripped the coffee cup in his hand with a stiff grip.
“So sorry. We fell asleep,” Riza said. Her cheeks were burning. Not just her cheeks—her entire body. This was the most embarrassing moment of her life. Nothing would top this.
“Riza, I thought you were still dating that physics major?”
“No. Not for a while.”
“Is...this a new thing?” Her father waved his hand vaguely. Did he think they’d been hiding from him?
“Kind of,” Roy jumped in, but she agreed that had to be safer than anything else they could say. “But I’ve admired her for a long time.”
She couldn’t help smiling. “And you can’t say you don’t like him. You’re always telling me how much you like him.”
“As an academic, not as a potential boyfriend for you,” he grumbled.
Beside her, she felt Roy stiffen. She didn’t think her father was the type to hurt a man’s career for such petty reasons, but it seemed urgent to air out any ugliness now. For Roy’s sake, at the very least.
“Can you still be his advisor if we’re together?” she asked bluntly.
He straightened, offended. “Of course I can!”
“I appreciate that, sir,” Roy said. “I’m really sorry you had to find out this way.”
“Me too,” he replied. “You’re both just lucky I fell asleep with the TV on after drinking too much wine after your grandfather left. If I had heard one peep— ”
“Oh god, Dad! Stop. We’re leaving.”
Her father looked between them again, sipping his coffee. “Ah. Well. Next time why don’t you stay at Roy’s place, okay?”
They both agreed enthusiastically, edging out of the room.
“Just don’t let her distract you from your work,” he said. “Same goes for you, Riza. Your senior year is very important. Don’t slack off—”
“I doubt she’ll let either of us slack off,” Roy said, and it was then she realized he was still holding her hand. He squeezed it. “She’s the kind of girlfriend that keeps a man in line.”
Oh. A girlfriend. They would have to work out the details later, but so far it seemed they were on the same page. She really wanted this to be more than just a quick fuck because Roy was the kind of man she imagined she’d want to keep around—and not just because he’d made her come harder than she ever had in her life. She genuinely liked him. Being a good lover was just a bonus.
Her father sent them off with a laugh, and it seemed the crisis was over. They slipped out the door and down the driveway to Roy’s car.
“That was lucky,” she murmured as he started the car.
“That was terrifying,” he said. “I thought he was trying to set me on fire with just his eyes.”
Riza scoffed. Being Berthold Hawkeye’s daughter had made her immune to that expression. Her father had been giving her that look since she was a child.
“He likes you too much to care if you’re fucking me,” she said. Her father didn’t care about her relationships in general. It was just the novelty of her choice that had driven him to comment this morning. Or he was having a laugh at the two of them. Probably both.
Roy cleared his throat. “What about…dating you?” He seemed nervous, which only made her like him more. It wasn’t fair.
“It’s probably not that different to him, but it is to me,” she said.
“I want to be your girlfriend,” she said. After drawing him naked and inviting him for sex in her room, she shouldn’t be shy about details. “I’m rather monogamous by nature.”
“Me too. I really love the idea of being your boyfriend,” he said, and his whole body slumped with relief. He was so cute. Hell, she was going to fuck him again that morning, she just knew it. She might have stashed the rest of the condoms from the box back into her bag, just in case.
“Then as my boyfriend, do you have any plans today?”
“Just grading some papers, but I’m basically free.”
Riza had some projects and homework for both of her majors due on Monday, but she could finish them easily on Sunday.
“Want to do something after breakfast?” The something being her .
“Like…?” he asked, clearly hedging around the same thing she was.
She pretended to think. “I suppose you could model for me again,” she said. “You know, I never finished that piece from last week.”
He laughed. “You’re just trying to get me naked again.”
“I could be naked, too,” she said, thinking of the fantasy of drawing him on a bed while he touched himself...
“I have experience in modeling, don’t you know?” he asked, putting the car in drive. “I can hold perfectly still.”
“Except for…certain areas.” She couldn’t help herself.
“If you’re going to be naked, that’s just not something that can be helped.”
They both laughed at that, but Riza was already thinking of what they would do after breakfast, and the rest of the day, and the day after that, and the weeks and months ahead. She could see this lasting a long time…